Slow progress, persisting challenges: 30-years since ACERWC, Africa still forging ahead to become a continent fit for children

Addis Ababa, 1 December 2020. Thirty years since the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ARCWC), various measures have been put in place by African governments to advance children’s rights and wellbeing. However, the pace is very slow and the challenges persist.

This year, as Africa celebrates this momentous occasion of three decades of children’s rights in Africa, ACPF is launching its report assessing the status of child rights in Africa, 30 years since the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The report, entitled Africas 30-year Journey with the African Children’s Charter: Taking Stock, Rekindling Commitment, aims to rekindle regional and national commitment to child rights and wellbeing in Africa.

The Charter has triggered a series of advances in continental efforts, national laws and policies, and has generally catalysed a shift towards a culture in which children have become visible in the human rights, political and development discourses across the entire continent. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), in executing its monitoring and implementation mandate, has become a positive force in driving the implementation of child rights in Africa. 

Africa’s journey in child rights implementation has not been without its ups and downs”, said Dr Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director of ACPF. “As the continent has made efforts to combat violence against children, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), at the same time, it has seen a sharp increase in sexual violence and exploitation and emerging new forms of violence in the poorly regulated online space, travel and tourism sectors. While infant mortality has shown a decline unparalleled by any other region, and primary school enrolment a significant increase, access to early childhood and secondary education has remained low. Africa has sufficient reasons to celebrate its success stories but has little room for complacency.”

African Governments should reflect on the experiences of countries that have consistently remained child-friendly.  These experiences include sustained efforts in the legal, budgetary and political realms, through accelerating legal reforms and enforcement; and substantial increases in national budgets for programmes benefiting children, particularly those addressing inequality.

ACPF’s report calls on all – specifically African Governments – to redouble efforts and move forward with ever greater commitment.  As the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child observed, “as the Charter turns 30 years old, the continent has changed in many ways but still remains with age old problems and emerging challenges that hinder the full realisation of the rights and welfare of the Child.”


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